Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Administrators' Ratings of Competencies Needed to Prepare Preservice Teachers for Oral Deaf Education Programs

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Administrators' Ratings of Competencies Needed to Prepare Preservice Teachers for Oral Deaf Education Programs

Article excerpt

DEAF EDUCATION TEACHER PREPARATION PROGRAMS must prepare teachers to staff an increasing number of oral programs. A survey was conducted to determine which competencies administrators of deaf education programs rate as important for teachers in oral programs and to compare ratings of these competencies by oral school administrators to ratings made by administrators of comprehensive deaf and hard of hearing programs. Between the two groups of administrators, six areas of agreement about competencies were found. There were notable differences in the range of ratings between the two groups. These differences were attributed to the roles teachers assume in the two types of programs and the focus of instruction in each type of program.

The field of deaf education is rapidly changing both demographically and methodologically. In no areas are the changes more apparent than in early identification and technology. The number of children identified as having hearing loss has increased dramatically since the advent of universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS). The number of hospitals screening children nationwide increased almost 100% between 1995 and 2002 (National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management, 2004). As identification of hearing loss in infancy becomes increasingly common due to UNHS, more and more infants, toddlers, and young children who are deaf or hard of hearing will be entering early intervention and preschool programs. Early interventionists will need to have specialized training in deafness and hearing loss and to have expertise in providing services to very young children and those with hearing losses ranging from the mild to profound levels (Arehart & Yoshinago-Itano, 1999).

At the same time that increased numbers of children are being identified, the education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing is changing dramatically due to innovations in technology. Improved technologies, such as digital hearing aids and, especially, cochlear implants, are providing the 70,960 school-age children in the United States who are deaf (U.S. Department of Education, 2002) with more opportunity than ever before to develop auditory and spoken-language skills.

Improvements in early identification and assistive listening technology have led to an increased interest in oral-auditory programs, driven by the need to meet the specialized communicative and educational requirements of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. A review of oral schools listed in the OPTION Schools Directory indicated that there were 38 in academic year 2001 (Oral Deaf Education, 2001), while the 2004 directory listed 47 oral schools (Oral Deaf Education, 2004). This 24% increase is indicative of the growing interest in oral-auditory program options. The oral-auditory approach relies on spoken means of communication in lieu of a sign language communication system, focuses on the development of auditory skills for listening, and requires an intensive program of speech development and remediation (Alexander Graham Bell Association, n.d.). There has been a rapid increase in the number of private oral schools opened across the United States. In addition, the Gallaudet Research Institute (2005) reports that more deaf and hard of hearing students (47.2% in all) are in educational programs with "speech only" listed as the primary communication mode than in any other kind of educational program.

Given the growing number of oralauditory educational programs, there is an increased need for teachers skilled in the technical management of the cochlear implant and the educational and acoustical rehabilitation required for children enrolled in oralauditory programs (Harrington & Powers, 2004). To meet this need, an increasing number of teacher preparation programs will need to develop oral-auditory training programs for their preservice teachers. Of the 70 deaf education teacher preparation programs in the United States, only 10 focus on the oral-auditory method of instruction (Deaf Education, 2004). …

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